Literacy appears to be the key to a successful life.
That’s according to the results of a recent poll conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of ABC Life Literacy Canada. The extensive study follows two years of economic recession and employment instability.
According to Ipsos Reid, nine out of 10 Canadians believe that improving the literacy levels in Canada is key to improving the country’s economy, while 95% agree that literacy training is critical to improving job prospects for Canadians.
"I think literacy, the ability to read and write, is predictive of successful functioning in society," said Lindsay Schluter, youth services librarian, programs and services at Winnipeg Public Library.
Schluter, a St. Vital resident, noted more people are now participating in library literacy programs.
"In terms of youth, programs like Baby Rhyme Time and Time for Two’s are becoming more popular. These programs focus on the development of early literacy skills. It’s great to see this increase," she said.
Schluter added that the library’s Family Literacy Fun Days and Summer Reading Club are also "steadily growing in participants."
"Research shows that students can suffer a learning loss over the summer break, which is referred to as summer slide," she said.
"If a child only reads four books during the summer, they should start the school year in good shape. They key to learning is enjoying it and having fun with it. In this respect, the library is an important asset for the future of our economy."
Riverview resident Kathleen Williams, who is the administrative co-ordinator of community outreach and marketing for the Winnipeg Public Library, said Winnipeg has seen a rise in demand for English-language adult literacy programs.
Williams said Winnipeg Public Library has more than 30 free databases for the public, including health, consumer and learning resources.
She also said resources such as the West End Library learning program and Jobworks Adult Learning Centre on Pembina Highway are growing in popularity.
"It’s well known that not being able to read and write very well will be a barrier in your daily life, whether it’s doing your taxes, writing a report or reading a technical manual," Williams said.
"Another example could be a garment industry worker who has been laid off and then discovers he or she doesn’t have the necessary skills to re-enter the job market," she added.
"There are so many reasons that people will seek out literacy upgrades in their life. Literacy is such an essential skill. And nowadays, there’s also computer literacy and technology literacy too."
Schluter added that the steady increase of immigrant families in Winnipeg in recent years has also impacted the growing demand for literacy resources in the city.
The Ipsos Reid poll determined that Manitobans are more confident in helping their kids with their reading, writing and math homework compared to the national average.
The study also shows that Manitobans spend the least amount of hours per week reading for leisure.
For more Winnipeg Public Library resource information, visit www.winnipeg.ca/library.